Thursday, October 05, 2006

What future?

I was just reading the following article in the STAR today and it really sends a chill down my spine. The world's powers and governments of both developed and developing countries are spending billions of dollars yearly on so called improving the lives of their citizens and people of the world. With our focus on technological and infrastructural development which is meant to give us better lifestyles, we don't seem to mind risking some of the more basic but absolutely essential things for the survival of human kind...

Get ready for freak weather, world's polluters told

By Catherine Bremer

MONTERREY, Mexico (Reuters) - The world's top polluting nations were told on Wednesday to prepare for decades of weather turmoil, even if they act now to curb emissions and pursue green energy sources.

Environment and energy ministers meeting in the Mexican city of Monterrey vowed to work faster to control global warming as scientists told them each year wasted in curbing greenhouse gas emissions would cost them dearly.

Yet even if countries froze emission levels tomorrow, the world still faces 30 years of floods, heatwaves, hurricanes and coastal erosion, the British government's chief scientific advisor David King, said.

King - who considers global warming a bigger threat than terrorism - said rich nations must help the developing world prepare for a weather shift that could put millions of lives at risk.

"We've got 30 years of climate change ahead of us even if we stop right now. Were persuading countries they have to adapt to the changes that are ahead of them," King told Reuters at the meeting of top greenhouse gas emitting countries.

"Because we've raised the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere so quickly, the earth's climate system is falling behind. This is way in excess of anything the planet has known, probably for 45 million years," he said.

Among countries who sent ministers to Monterrey were China and India, whose ballooning demand for energy has made them some of the worst polluters after the United States, which pumps out a quarter of the world's greenhouse gases.

The United States, which could face fiercer hurricanes as sea temperatures rise, sent a senior official, but U.S. officials did not brief the press.

Already, a roughly 1 degree Celsius temperature rise over the past century has allowed icy Greenland to start growing barley, and farmers in Spain are battling arid conditions.

"The people in denial now are the equivalent of the Flat Earth Society," British Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks told Reuters in an interview. "Humankind is in a race for life against global warming."

Delegates discussed energy efficiency, conservation and how to fund initiatives like storing the carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants deep underground.

But it is likely to be at least the end of the decade before most projects can get off the ground.
"Time is running out, and the size of the challenge is enormous," Mexican Environment Minister Jose Luis Luege said.

Developing countries at the talks - including South Africa, Brazil and Mexico - were told to adapt for possible floods, droughts, storms and a surge in tropical diseases like malaria.

We can see these things happening right here in our country, with rise in the average temperatures and constant flooding. Now the problem with the constant haze has become a very big threat to the health of Malaysians throughout the nation. I once wrote in to the STAR sometime last year and remember mentioning that it's pointless for mega housing developers to focus selling the concept of botanical gardens and beautiful parks when we can't even step out of our homes without risking our health.

I really wonder what the long term effects this haze phenomenon is going to have on our health and children's health. Will there be a rise in cancer cases and heart and respiratory related problems over the next few years. It's been almost 10 years now since this problem was first seen, I wonder if the government has any statistical information about this type of thing. At the back of my mind, I keep wondering if our lives are being shortened not just by years but perhaps even a decade or two?

In the last few days I have been feeling very depressed as I had to stop myself from running outdoors. I felt like a prisoner in this world! I had to instead try to get some exercise indoors using my stepper and some free weights to compensate. This morning when I saw the sky was clear in Klang, I couldn't resist just putting on my shoes and running for 45 minutes before going to work. I was afraid that the dreaded haze will return by evening and sure enough as I type this I can see that the gloom has returned and the smog is everywhere!

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